Amid a weekend of protests after the verdict came late Friday in the trial over the fatal shooting of Antwon Rose, people gathered in Rankin on Sunday to honor the 17 year old.
They placed flowers and candles in the center of a basketball court at Hawkins Village, where Rose lived. Many tied purple ribbons to the chain-link fence, as purple was Rose’s favorite color.
Michelle Kenney, Rose’s mother, came to the vigil. She spoke about former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, who shot Rose last June and was acquitted by a jury late Friday.
“My life has been turned upside down,” she said. “I just pray that he sees Antwon’s face in everything he does, when he closes his eyes, when he wakes up, when he lays down, when he’s driving his car, the same way I do.”
Several people brought artwork to the memorial.
Ronald Butler, who calls himself R. Ray in the art world, started a painting a few hours after the verdict.
“I was just working straight through the night,” he said. “Once I heard it, it was just paint, paint, paint.”
On his canvas, words like “criminal” and “thug” surround a black man with a target on his face. He also wrote the names of young black men killed by police, including Rose.
“I painted this to symbolize how words can hurt just as much as actual bullets and actual violence,” Butler said. “I also wanted to pay homage to all those who have been affected by police violence, brutality, things of that nature.”
After Rose’s death, he said he hopes black people here will uplift one another. But, he said, it shouldn’t take someone dying to bring people together.
Yassmine Kelly, 25, attended the vigil after taking part in a protest in Oakland on Saturday.
She said Rose deserved better.
“I felt like I just needed to do something,” she said. “There have been several people who’ve said marching is not going to solve anything, but it’s a starting point, and somebody needs to hear us, so that’s why I showed up.”
While she admits she does not have much hope for change, as more deaths like Rose’s happen, she said the black community here is starting to position itself to change its future.
Following the vigil and protests over the weekend, more demonstrations are expected. On Monday at 11 a.m., some high school and college students plan to walk out of class to gather in front of Pittsburgh’s City-County Building to call for justice and celebrate Rose’s life.